Fire safety is one of the biggest challenges facing the property management sector. The scale of work relating to addressing the safety of external wall systems and replacing unsafe cladding is huge. We have has set up a Fire Safety Remediation Team at Rendall & Rittner dedicated to working with the Building Safety Fund to action, monitor and progress applications for funding for remediation work.
Our Fire Safety Remediation Team is made up of eight members of staff, four managers and four co-ordinators, overseen at board level and line managed by our Head of Health & Safety. We are the central point of contact for everything to do with the Building Safety Fund (BSF) and we support the property managers on all remediation matters relating to the fire safety of the properties they manage.
We spent time with one of our Fire Safety Remediation Managers to find out more about the role.
“To have expanded to a team of eight shows just how much work is now involved in coordinating the various remediation projects. Each manager and co-ordinator work as a discrete team, responsible for managing BSF applications and coordinating with the various parties to this get this done efficiently and safely.
“It’s our job to provide Property Managers with all the guidance and support they need in relation to BSF applications. This allows them to focus on their job, rather than getting bogged down with the complexities of fire safety remediation.
“Because so much information is required for each application, I liaise with BSF case workers, clients, project management teams, remediation contractors, local fire services and our property management team to obtain the relevant details that are necessary at all stages of the process.
“I also help compile all the BSF communications that we share with our clients and leaseholders. It’s essential everybody is kept updated every step of the way in relation to what’s happening, what’s required of them and the progress that’s being made.
“The BSF process typically starts with an external wall survey being carried out at the property. Once produced, my team reviews the survey report to help identify the next steps and if any further investigations need to be conducted, for example whether additional 'as-built' documentation needs to be sourced to clarify the construction and type of building materials used. We submit the report to the client and property manager along with guidance on key recommendations, especially if there are significant risks such as the need for a waking watch or fire alarm to be installed.
“We obtain quotes from the project management teams for the associated work and engage with the case worker from the Greater London Authority, or Homes England if the property is outside of London
“It is essential that our team understands the sequence of work and associated costs, as well as the complexities involved, for instance why certain remediations can or cannot take place and what the recommended course of action is in these circumstances.
“One of the greatest challenges is understanding the historical footprint of some of the properties, especially if we don’t have access to all the required information. This means more intrusive investigations must be carried out, which can be time consuming, as well as identifying the materials and carrying out further combustion testing.
“Our main challenge is time; we’re always trying to move at pace so that we can keep applications progressing at the rate at which they’re coming in and meet the deadlines set by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Rendall & Rittner is part of a working group together with industry bodies and other managing agents continuing to put pressure on Government to help resolve these issues.
“We are conscious of the fact that leaseholders are often having to face large bills, even though the current situation is not of their making. This makes it even more important for us to share information with them, and to empathise with the challenges which they are facing. This makes the job very stressful at times, but equally very rewarding, since the work that we are doing is intended to ensure residents are kept safe.”
Posted: 27 September 2021 by Fire Safety Remediation Manager
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